LGBTQ+ Country Voices: Dumped, dating, and discrimination in Covid Paris
One Sunday morning in late February in Paris, my boyfriend announced that our relationship was over.
The next day I began couch surfing with friends, and a week later France entered lockdown to stem the Covid-19 pandemic. Change was everywhere.
A month into living out of a suitcase at my friend Etienne’s, his ears bleeding from my breakup rants, he suggested that it might do me some good to live alone. Taking the hint, I packed up and moved to a sublet.
The first night there, in no mood to rewatch Black Mirror, I did what newly single gay men do with time and a smartphone: I downloaded Grindr.
Grindr is the “largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans, and queer people.” Members see other members in their vicinity, and can share messages, photos, and their location.
Half asleep, I tried to create a profile in the time it took to brush my teeth. Keep it simple,I reminded myself. But who was I kidding? My go at simplicity led to selfie taking to show I was sexy, yet approachable, passionate, yet carefree. In the end, the pics just looked like I had not seen the sun since 2019.
This time around, my time on Grindr has produced varied results.
I have encountered the usual suspects: the courtroom stenographers, who woo with “Sup,” or its cousin, “Wut u up 2”; or the macho, “discreet” types who send emojis of fruit and water features (usually an eggplant, peach, and splash icon, but not necessarily in that order).
Of all the Grindr guys, though, there is one type that irritates me: the ones who see, first and foremost, my ethnicity, and not much else. The ones treating my Korean origins as a continent-wide topic, like one of those catch-all Asian restaurants in strip malls, with names like Great Wall Sushi Thai Lotus House.
Anonymous 1 told me, for example, “You’re kinda tall to be Asian.” I asked why he felt the need to generalize, and he replied saying that denying Asians are short would be denying reality.
LBGTQ+ Caucus Member Profile: George Sonsel
HIV/AIDS: Pioneer and health activist on the front lines
“The development of services directed within our own community and the commitment of our community towards providing those things is a huge shift from when I came out,” said George Sonsel, a Democrats Abroad member and long-term AIDS advocate.
Sonsel, 75, has been based in The Hague for the past six years, alongside his Dutch husband, Sven Paardekooper. After growing up in Dallas, Texas, he moved to California to study, eventually coming out of the closet and moving to Palm Springs. Sonsel spent the bulk of his career working with HIV/AIDS patients, and was one of the earliest medical professionals to do so.
When the AIDS epidemic hit in the early 1980s, Sonsel witnessed its destruction firsthand. He worked as a psychologist, and his then partner was a nurse. Together, they saw the rise of a strange disease that attacked the immune system with brutal efficiency, killing previously healthy young men in just a few months and ravaging the gay community. Many medical professionals refused to care for the patients. The two of them lost 32 friends in a single year while watching the federal government ignore the epidemic raging outside their door.
“Your life, your mind, your everything, is so reset to survival,” he said.
Spotlight of Inspiration: Joan Jett Blakk
Although the Democratic presidential primary is now largely uncontested with Joe Biden as the presumptive nominee, more former presidential hopefuls have joined an ever-growing pantheon of peers. These candidates may not have been successful in their quest to win the presidency, but their campaigns nonetheless influenced the political discourse and reflected the important issues of their time.
One such candidate was the drag queen Joan Jett Blakk, who ran for president in 1992. Joan Jett Blakk is the alter ego of artist and activist Terence Smith. Blakk was the first drag queen to run for president and created a “camp-pain” only a drag queen could conjure.
Terence transforming into Blakk inside a restroom at the 1992 DNC.
Pride celebrations bring out Americans abroad all around the world. In 2018, we saw a lot of great activity as our country committees put their rainbow colors on and celebrate the LGBT community.
Thank you to our Panama, Austria, Spain, Canada, Italy and Finland teams for their awesome pictures!
VICTORY FOR AMERICA
Congratulations to our President and Vice President Elect!
"A new day has come to America and the world. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have won the White House, and democracy will prevail!
Joe Biden will be a president for all America, healing the divisions that have so fragmented the country. He is a thoughtful statesman, and an experienced legislator and leader, but above all he is a truly empathetic and kind person.
We are thrilled to have elected Kamala Harris as Vice President. A groundbreaking leader, her legal and senatorial careers have more than demonstrated her keen intelligence, progressive values, and ability to build coalitions. She will be a role model for generations.
Thank you to all of our voters and volunteers for your efforts! We have risen to the challenge of our time, and our votes have been the margin of victory in this historic win.
We look forward to working with the 117th Congress and Biden administration to bring our voices to the table in the coming months."
Global Chair of Democrats Abroad